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Back in February 2008, Suraj Mall, an eight-year-old Indian boy, drowned at Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre. The British Court was informed that Kelly Woods, the lifeguard on duty, was chatting with a customer for up to 15 minutes in the lead-up to the tragic drowning. On Friday, during the trial, the jurors heard from five lifeguards who were on duty that day, as well as Barry King, the man who she was talking to.


According to lifeguard Natalie Emery, there are rules that clearly state that conversations with customers should not go on for more than two minutes. Lifeguards there took half-hour shifts to oversee an area of the centre and on that day, the most recent changeover happened at 4.30 pm, which was 19 minutes before the call was made to 999 to inform them of the drowning. “I noticed Kelly was talking to a gentleman. It was for between 10 and 15 minutes,” stated Natalie.

It was two girls, who were in the pool, that alerted Kelly about Suraj being face down in the water. Fellow lifeguard Laura Kane, who dived into the pool after Kelly, estimated that her conversation with Barry lasted ‘more than five minutes’. However, Barry himself stated that their conversation only took place for ‘a couple of minutes’. He approached Kelly, who at that point of time was overlooking the leisure pool, to inquire about a previous incident where he was told that his shorts were too long to swim in. He also went on to talk about how she had recently helped him out when he had not enough money for a locker.

He also mentioned that although the pair were talking, it felt more towards a one-sided conversation. “She was concentrating on her job and I don’t think I distracted her,” he added. He agreed with Kelly’s defence barrister Ben Compton that throughout the chat they had, her attention still remained towards the pool. If you would like to read more on the story, do check it out over here.

This is one of the reasons why Happy Fish Swim School always advise parents to remain in the swimming complex and to be vigilant at all times. Yes, there are definitely lifeguards around at all times. Unfortunately at times they might miss a certain area because they have multiple people to keep a look out for. As we all know, it only takes seconds to drown and it is a silent killer. Hence, it would be wise for you to monitor your own child. Furthermore, you will only be focusing on your child alone. For those who are looking for swimming lessons for children, do check what we have to offer.